Post-90s second-generation successors are taking over the business world, breaking new ground on Amazon and achieving one million dollars in sales in their first year?
Post-90s successors achieving $1M in sales in their first year on Amazon
Cross-border sellers speak
Q As young sellers in the booming cross-border market, what role do you play?
A We are innovators standing on the foundation of traditional manufacturing industry. The accumulation of traditional foreign trade business has given us the confidence to start over. Cross-border e-commerce gives us the opportunity to innovate production, upgrade technology, and use our products to export culture, so that more people can understand and love Made in China and Chinese brands.
Q In the era of global brand globalization, what is your global cross-border dream?
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A Our original intention is simple and has not changed, which is to “become a globally recognized and inheritable brand.”
Q As contemporary young people, having a broad stage to showcase your talents, what opportunities does cross-border e-commerce provide for you?
A Cross-border e-commerce provides a platform for young people with brand ideals and ambitions to quickly connect with global consumers and provide better products and services to them. Its greatest value lies in promoting mutual empowerment between end consumers and enterprise organizations, achieving information transmission and supply chain management, and improving consumption efficiency.
Q Do you have any experience or insights to share with other “new cross-border forces”?
A First of all, it is long-termism. We must adhere to our original intentions and beliefs and not give up because of setbacks. Secondly, it is about sharing. We need to learn to share with partners, employees, and customers, and constantly improve our products with each other as the core.
01 、 “Second Generation of the Factory”: Successor and Reformer
Starting in 2020, the unexpected outbreak of the epidemic swept through the global supply chain, including this old-fashioned textile enterprise in Suzhou with thirty years of foreign trade experience, putting them in a difficult situation. The ups and downs of traditional foreign trade business made the company’s founder start to seek new paths.
The Opportunity for Succession
Anxiety became the background of Chris’s father at that time. He expressed his concerns, worrying that many foreign trade enterprises would “fall behind.”
“In order for the enterprise to achieve nonlinear growth and pursue sustainable development, it cannot rely solely on traditional foreign trade business. We must find a second curve.” A sense of mission suddenly arose from Chris’s heart.
Under the impetus of the epidemic, many “second generations of the factory” with similar experiences as Chris have stepped onto the stage of their own and played a leading role.
However, compared with the label of “Second Generation of the Factory,” Chris prefers to call himself the “First Generation of Innovation.” In his heart, he has a grander idea – “I want to use my products and brand to go to the world and make the Chinese voice heard.”
Diving into the Company and Growing into a Versatile Talent
After taking over the development of new businesses, Chris felt the weight on his shoulders. However, he had almost no practical experience in management. Chris said his current idea is very simple – to learn quickly and make up for his shortcomings to offset the unprecedented pressure in his heart.
At that time, I had just returned from studying abroad in the United States and spent all day in the company, trying to learn in every way possible.
What is the business structure of the company? How are product costs calculated? How many processes does a product go through? What materials and techniques are used? After getting involved in the company, the previously unclear concepts gradually become clear.
How can succession be complete without “mutual criticism”
“Actually, my father still doesn’t trust online trading channels because, in the past, when doing traditional foreign trade business, as long as the funds were invested in production capacity, money could be quickly earned. However, facing end consumers is undoubtedly a longer-term investment.”
Chris explained that in the older generation’s understanding, in order to meet the customized needs of overseas consumers, a production line needs to be adjusted, and a lot of manpower needs to be invested in research and marketing. Moreover, these investments are not immediate, and orders are not locked in before investment, “inevitably there will be no sense of security”.
*Photo provided by Suzhou Xingyu Zhiheng
As cross-border e-commerce business continues to generate orders and achieves some results, Chris’s father’s view is also changing. Now he is fully supporting his son’s expansion of his cross-border team.
When the older generation truly gives the decision-making power to Chris, he also begins to consider where to increase investment in longer-term and higher-return areas, after all, the “quick money-making era” of “only considering production without product added value” has passed.
Chris and his father’s “competition” is also a microcosm of the collision of concepts in the upgrading process of traditional foreign trade in China. Industrial upgrading, fine cultivation, and focusing on long-term value are all necessary paths for Made in China to go global.
In the narrative framework of “advancing this traditional giant ship to open up new routes and sail towards a wider sea”, there is a beginning of “not only inheritance, but also innovation”.
02 、 “Captain” Needed for My “New Ship”
Chris: The most difficult part of taking your brand overseas is finding the right people. We have already verified that cross-border trade is feasible, but we need people to sit down together and come up with solutions. If we have that, I believe that this can be resolved.
How do we deal with redundant “seasonal products” caused by inaccurate stockpiling in the past?
As a novice seller, how can we reduce the cost of trial and error?
*Picture provided by Suzhou Xingyu Zhiheng
At that time, Chris was somewhat at a loss when faced with these problems. In his own words, “I urgently need to find a captain with rich operational experience and the same vision to work alongside me.”
My Captain Was Found Through Destiny
At a friend’s gathering, Chris met the “captain,” Zack, who would eventually partner with him. Similar ages and similar study abroad experiences naturally brought them closer together. After communicating with each other, Chris discovered that Zack had experience in operating various types of products, and he was also well-versed in Amazon’s rules, operational skills, and transaction processes.
What impressed Chris the most was that Zack not only had the idea of starting a business but also had experience in doing so. During his study abroad in the United States, Zack started his own business, operated overseas warehouses, and even created his own surfboard brand. Now, Zack wants to do something big in the cross-border field and create a sustainable legacy, which coincides with Chris’s ambition.
In the days that followed, the two “latecomer” young people in their 90s were determined to fulfill their goals and demonstrated that “the greater the determination, the greater the results.”
Quickly resolve the backlog and overstock inventory with decisive actions
The goods on hand couldn’t be sold, but they also wanted to bring in new products. However, they were struggling with limited storage space and were discussing all day long how to put the store into a virtuous cycle.
Are the unsold products seasonal? The top priority is definitely “cutting losses in a timely manner” and resolving this problem as quickly and with as little loss as possible.
Zack took action and his approach to clearing inventory was “sharp and to the point.”
⚪ Bundle sales and offer discounts.
⚪ Optimize advertising and listings. Adjust the bidding for keywords based on data performance, optimize Amazon listings, check and improve product titles, descriptions, and other information, and test the effect of modified ads.
In less than two months, the store’s sales gradually picked up, and new products were regularly introduced. Chris claimed to have “witnessed the process of a store going from near death to revitalization.”
Recruiting the capable with persistence
Zack: “It’s certainly difficult to find talent, especially in the early stages, but we persisted and went all over the country, using personal connections and referrals to slowly build the team’s framework.”
Zack, who was searching for talent everywhere, had a clear goal: “Amazon is a mature industry, and refined operations have become the norm. Therefore, I have high requirements for the initial team and hope they are self-driven and have strong comprehensive abilities to withstand challenges and hardships.”
Last year, the GMV of Suzhou Xingyu Zhiheng reached one million US dollars, and Zack believes that the contribution of the post-90s and post-00s in the team cannot be ignored.
“First of all, they accept things very quickly and have agile thinking. Secondly, I have always emphasized the importance of efficiency internally and allocated KPIs to people so that they know how much workload they need to undertake and what goals they need to achieve. In addition to the employee’s self-drive, these are the keys to our continued performance growth.”
In addition, Zack also specifically mentioned one point: “Since we started the cross-border business, we have continuously improved and perfected the team’s management mechanism. I am very proud to say that we have always maintained a zero turnover rate. Our team members have always progressed together with the brand, and I am very fortunate to have such a group of business partners.”
Using “hedging thinking” for product selection and diversifying risks in multiple layouts
The market itself is a zero-sum game, so focusing on a single product has certain risks. Therefore, we will leverage opportunities for growth in different fields.
For example, during the epidemic, the sales of home products will definitely increase, and as the epidemic gradually eases, the demand for outdoor products will gradually return to normal. At this time, the outdoor category and the home category will form a hedge.
Zack believes that the benefits of the “hedging product selection method” are self-evident- it can resist risks and ensure that the store is in a relatively favorable position in the overall competition.
Of course, before entering a certain field, multiple dimensions should be considered- whether the development of high-prosperity categories has continuity, and whether the company’s supply chain organizational capabilities can keep up.
The captain was found, and the crew was assembled. Even “difficulty in crossing the Guanshan Mountains” eventually became a “medal” for Suzhou Xingyu Zhiheng.
Now, Suzhou Xingyu Zhiheng’s performance is becoming stable, and even occasionally receives a large order. This cannot be separated from the “resonance” of partners and the “intentional cultivation” of the team.
Chris and Zack also have more time to think. They know that their direction is the vast sea of stars, but they are more eager to know how far in the future they can achieve true brand globalization.
03 . Being the “connector” in the era of brand globalization
The sound of the machines roared again, and the factory began to regain its former busyness. Chris felt that the struggles and efforts of the past had not let his father down.
From being a layman to standing firm on Amazon, the door to the “cross-border world” not only leads to the future of the factory, but also refreshes Chris’ position in his career and family.
Now, Chris and Zack are more willing to define themselves as connectors– connecting traditional foreign trade and new cross-border e-commerce, connecting production and consumption, and connecting the present and future of the brand.
Different from the traditional foreign trade thinking, the two young partners focus more on style development and iteration, emphasizing packaging and service, pursuing a sense of quality and design, in order to increase the brand’s premium.
* Image provided by Suzhou Xingyu Zhiheng.
In the next step of brand building, Chris and Zack have their own logic.
1. Optimize the overall design and detail pages of the store.
2. Do a good job in brand after-sales service to ensure long-term effective accumulation of consumers.
3. Adhere to the “hedge selection” strategy, explore more potential categories, and form a boutique category matrix.
4. Focus on “finer granularity and more refined operation direction” for fine-grained operations. “We will design product packaging, iterate product functions, and launch related long-tail keywords based on the preferences of the product’s targeted audience. I hope this level of meticulousness will run through the entire lifecycle of the product.”
During the business expansion period of promoting the brand’s overseas presence, Chris and Zack still work tirelessly, refining the team’s precision and efficiency, and personally penetrating every link in the supply chain. When they leave the office every day, it is already nine or ten o’clock.
However, there are surprises as well.
By chance, Chris discovered that his father, who he had always looked up to, had become like a child who would “snoop” on cross-border e-commerce product selection and “inspect” his own work. In his father’s eyes, Chris saw affirmation and expectation. In a sense, the relationship between father and son has become closer due to the transformation of cross-border e-commerce.
From powerless to taking charge, Chris and Zack have provided an excellent paradigm for “how to achieve the orderly succession of family businesses, and complete the innovation and breakthrough of traditional industries under the impact of emerging industries.”
In the future, the story of Suzhou Xingyu Zhiheng will continue. It is not a grand narrative, but the sincere, steadfast, inheritance, and hope of two generations.
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